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Illinois Releases Preliminary Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Report


The attorney general of Illinois has found 690 members of the Catholic clergy in the state have been accused of sexual abuse. But the Catholic Church has not publicly identified most of those men. The findings are part of a four-month investigation into the state's dioceses. Susie An of member station WBEZ in Chicago has the story.

SUSIE AN, BYLINE: Catholic dioceses around Illinois have publicly listed only 185 clergy members as being credibly accused of child sexual abuse. But Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan revealed in preliminary findings that more than 500 accused priests haven't been publicly named.

LISA MADIGAN: It's everything from no investigation being done, an incomplete investigation being done to an investigation being done where it appears that there's enough evidence that there should be a substantiated allegation. Yet that priest or that clergy member's name has not been made public yet.

AN: Madigan began her investigation in late August following a sweeping grand jury report out of Pennsylvania that uncovered more than 300 priests accused of abuse. It also revealed a cover-up by the church. Madigan says her investigation found something similar in Illinois.

MADIGAN: The church really took any opportunity it thought it could not to investigate.

AN: She says the most common reasons the dioceses gave for not investigating an allegation were the priests had died or had already resigned. The dioceses around Illinois are defending how they handle allegations. In a statement, the Archdiocese of Chicago expressed, quote, "profound regret for the church's failures." It says it works daily to protect and heal.

But for some sexual abuse survivors, the attorney general's investigation isn't enough. Larry Antonsen is a leader with the Chicago branch of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. He says if Illinois wants to make a real difference, the state should launch its own grand jury investigation with subpoena power.

LARRY ANTONSEN: I don't know what to believe out of the Catholic Church. I mean, I really don't because everything that's been so secretive and hidden.

AN: Decades ago, Antonsen reported a priest who had sexually abused him as a child. He says he's still waiting for the church to publicly list the man's name.

For NPR News, I'm Susie An in Chicago.


As a reporter for WBEZ's news desk, Susie produces content for daily newscasts and WBEZ's website. She also anchors, occasionally, delivering news on WBEZ. She directed WBEZ's Schools on the Line monthly call-in show. Her work has also been heard on NPR, CBC and BBC. Susie joined WBEZ as a news desk intern in September 2007. Prior to joining WBEZ, Susie worked at the Peoria Journal Star newspaper and worked as an acquisitions editor for Publications International,Ltd.